Saturday, August 25, 2007

Made it Myself: 1 of 2

In the time between getting home from work on Friday and making my way to The Griffin for some hot Atwater action, I made yogurt. In doing so, I signed my life away into some weird yogurt making society that has its claws on me tighter than the Church of Scientology on baby Suri.

When I replied to that fated work email, I didn't know I was joining a cult. Someone was offering a bit of starter for something called 'Caspian Sea yogurt.' You add milk, let it sit for 8 hours, and voila. Romantic images of skinny French women and their yaourtières, and Greek island women pouring honey over thick homemade yogurt filled my head, and so I replied. Next day, a friendly woman stepped into my office with a tiny tupperware full of something that I believed to be both Caspian Sea yogurt, and Caspian Sea yogurt starter (it should be noted here that this product named for the Caspian has nothing to do with the eponymous body of water and actually comes from Japan. I'm holding judgment).

the lab
This endeavor is an act of faith. A strange woman gives you something, tells you it's going to turn your milk sour and thick. This could be a container of Elmer's glue for all I know, or fluff, or cyanide. But don't worry, just eat it, it's good for you. Not only that, but in acquiring it, you get a lecture that subtly ties you into a lifelong yogurt pact. Apparently, the live cultures only last three days. So, you have to make more yogurt every three days, or else your starter is rendered dead and useless, and you can never make yogurt again (the horror!). In fact, the reason this woman was giving away starter was to protect her own investment: she's going on vacation, and wants to make sure she has a starter source when she comes back. I've been sucked in.

So, now I've made the leap into the cult of yogurt, how did production go? Well, it took a little longer than 8 hours -- I let mine sit overnight. But in the morning I had several containers of a yogurt that was a little less firm than what I buy from the store, and a little stretchier. I tried both whole and low-fat (2%) milk. They were similar in texture, but the whole milk was a little heavier. Both had a tangy taste that, if it were a little stronger, would be gross, but as it was, was fine -- natural tasting, which was the point of making it myself, right?

It was extremely easy, and now I can have all-natural organic yogurt (provided I use organic milk) ever available in the fridge -- breakfast for days. I even sweetened and froze a portion, breaking up the icy bits every couple hours -- instant natural frozen yogurt!

So, friends, if anyone is interested in making their own Caspian sea yogurt, I'd be glad to give you some starter -- just let me know. Come on, you know you wanna join the club.


  1. I have life long memories of my mom making home made yogurt in our kitchen. That smell of fermentation/yogurtization was inescapable.

  2. clearly you were indoctrinated early, jonah. my life has become yogurtization (my new favorite word!). in fact i should be making a batch right now as we speak (seriously). sigh...

  3. can I get the starter from a store?

  4. hey anonymous, i believe you can get the starter from some health food stores. here's a source i found online, and here (under 'matsoni') is another. of course, i can not vouch for either of these; i just came across them in a google search.

  5. Hello! could I paypal you postage for some starter?

  6. Hi,
    A few years ago a friend of a friend gave me a piece of what looked like a cauliflowere florette. You simpmly cover this with room temperature milk, leave overnight or 24 house, and you have wondrful homemade pure yogurt. Every day you wash the 'florette' in plain water and repeat. the florette will grow and you need to half it every so often or it gets too big. Anyone know what it was and where I could get some more? Rita

  7. rita, it is called kefir grains. Kefir is the yogurt.

  8. Entao, me encinaram conceguir o Caspian sea e deu super certo, tem uma marca no mercado que eu nao me lembro agora, mas o iogurte chama grego, ele tem natural Ja adoçado e natural de um lado e do outro Calda de fruta( é um potinho dividido ao meio com rotulo azul ) e muito facil de achar em qualquer mercado. Entao o q me encinaram é o seguinte, ferva um litro de leite de saquinho e deixe chegar na temperatura de mamadeira de bebe, separe um copo de 200 ml + ou - e disolva nele 3 Col. Sopa desse yogurt industrial depois junte com o resto q sobrou tampe com um pano de prato e acabou de conceguilo, facil nao é. ............ Qual é o truque???????????? Bom, Eu faço isso a noite e o coloco dentro do microondas, so para guardar, so para ninguem balançar certo, nao vai ligar o micro ta. vc pode guarda lo no forno do fogao, armario ou ancima da geladeira sei la ele tem que ficar em temperatura ambiente. E de manha vc tem 1lt de iogurt do melhor... na terceira vez q vc fizer, vc vai começar a notar q ele vai esta mais durinho. Nao fica bom com leite de caixinha as vezes ate morre nao vira iogurte com o de saquinho da super certo, tem o sabor do iogurt, nao e nada acido porem viscoso, qualquer duvida